Activist's alleged mugger in custody
Published: Friday, January 20, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 19, 2006 at 11:51 p.m.
Tips from downtown homeless people helped lead a Gainesville police detective to a man now charged with mugging a local activist last month.
Gainesville Police arrested Jonathan Charleston Hunter, 21, for strong-arm robbery and battery on a person over 65, said Detective Mike Schentrup.
Hunter is accused of attacking arts advocate Doris Bardon, 86, as she was heading to a Hanukkah celebration in downtown Gainesville on Dec. 28.
Contacted late Thursday, Bardon said she's grateful there has been an arrest in the case. And, she said, "I'm hopeful that the city and the police department will pay more attention to the safety and security of people in that area."
The robbery left Bardon hospitalized with bruises and abrasions and injuries, including a dislocated shoulder. A few days after the attack, she moved to an area rehabilitation center where she said Thursday that she's improving but still recovering from her injuries.
Bardon said the robber came up behind her and grabbed her purse as she was preparing to cross University Avenue at NE 1st Street at about 6 p.m. The man threw her down and started to drag her before escaping into a nearby SUV.
City Commissioner Jack Donovan, who was heading to City Hall, saw the attack and tried to catch the robber. He didn't, but he did get a description. And he threw a jelly doughnut that struck the SUV.
"It still had the remnants of the jelly doughnut on the rear driver's side window," Schentrup said about the vehicle that police later located.
Schentrup said he got a lead about the suspect Thursday after he went to the downtown plaza, near where the robbery occurred, and began speaking to some of the homeless people.
"They gave me a lead on an individual," Schentrup said.
That person, he said, turned out to be a man who had been driving the SUV and was being held at the Alachua County jail. The man denied that he had participated in the robbery. Instead he described another man as the suspect and said that man had run back to his vehicle and said, "Let's go."
Using the description and more leads from people downtown, officers identified Hunter. He was arrested at about 4:30 p.m. at a relative's home.
Hunter had relocated to the area a few weeks after Hurricane Katrina damaged New Orleans, Schentrup said.
Hunter also is facing charges of grand theft and aggravated battery on a pregnant victim filed last month.
He was being held at the Alachua County jail late Thursday without bond pending a court appearance today.
Lise Fisher can be reached at (352) 374-5092 or fisherl@ gvillesun.com.
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